In late January, I was in the thick of design on a synth culture magazine called Open Source. I pulled myself away from InDesign long enough to shoot a music video for the first release on the magazine's record label. The artist and performer I decided to kick things off with is San Francisco-based m.0 aka Maurice Jackson. I connected with Maurice through another concept called Binary Showcase, which was an idea that came to mind when there were too many artists for a single event lineup. It was also difficult to bring talented musicians to the Bay. So I created an online submission-based showcase to accompany the actual event 15 Year Anniversary Synth Meet at Robotspeak in SF. This is how I found out about the fantastic music of m.0.
There was such polish and self-assured craft embedded in his tracks. I couldn’t fit him into the Synth Meet lineup, which was already jam packed with 7 or 8 performers. Then I went into an indefinite hiatus after that. So we weren’t able to do any shows together, but I always kept him in mind for future projects. Maurice approached me about releasing his album toward the end of last summer just as I started up on the idea to make a magazine. And so here we are…
“rhythms:in:time” is an eight track album with a bonus track from the Open Source BLCK_NOIR guest patches. It has a variety of different styles which range from techno, electro, ambient, etc. All of it was recorded in two weeks, then mastered by Nathan Moody at Obsidian Sound.
I knew that I wanted to shoot a music video. First of all, the track… “Passage” has an interesting groove to it. Dark, constantly moving, but in a slow deliberate way. There’s progression, and the sound design is a subtle but sophisticated flavor.
I wanted to approach this shoot differently. For one, because I didn’t have much time until the magazine was due for release. I think I had already received all 200 of the magazines from the printer at that point. I had been experimenting with Moment’s 2x anamorphic lens and case for the iPhone X as well as a Kickstarter gimbal/stabilizer. The look that felt right was a night shoot in downtown San Francisco. Since phones tend to have infinite focus with a lot of sensor noise, I dialed in the parameters of the Moment app to lower the ISO to the lowest possible setting, which was ISO 24, I believe. I compensated for the low ISO with a really long shutter exposure setting, which was 1/4.
The long shutter was the basis for the look. That sort of 80’s music video look, but in 4K at 24 fps. It was a bit challenging to keep the gimbal rotating on Maurice, as he walked down crowded streets near Folsom and Bryant. I tried to get longer takes, but at various points the visuals became less interesting. I used light sources on the street to get Maurice against silhouettes as we were walking by; car headlights, street lamps, business signs, etc.
We got some neat shots inside the Metreon, although they would’ve been cooler if there weren’t people sitting in the cafeteria for the brightly lit interior shot. I liked how the lights seemed to chop into his silhouette.
At the very end, I used the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K to shoot a couple wide angle shots of the Bay Bridge. They don’t exactly match with the iPhone X footage, but I thought it would be okay since the shots look pretty fantastic.
I transcoded the shots from h264 to ProRes 422 then edited a rough cut by the next morning.